Monday, August 11, 2014

Instant Feedback: Anti-Catharsis

The love/hate shtick was not what this audience needed tonight, John
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WWE picked the worst night to roll out hotter, smellier garbage than the average trash pile during the middle of a New York sanitation worker's strike in the dead heat of summer. Even though the art is couched in violence, and WWE is the kind of company that revels in its lowbrow mantel despite the fact that wrestling can be so much more, a good, fun slate of wrestling can be comforting when things get a little too bleak, and when the real news appears to display a society that has gone full tilt into decay and sadness. With the news swirling with anger-inducing stories like Ferguson, MO or Christy Mack, as well as sad ones like the passing of Robin Williams, I know I needed a pick-me-up.

Granted, if RAW were entertaining, emotionally fulfilling, or even just fun tonight, it wouldn't have taken away the evils of the world. Racism would still exist (and paradoxically, it exists quite healthily within WWE), monstrous ogres under the self-diagnosed monikers of alpha males would still beat the holy hell out of women they tower over just because, and depression would still be here claiming lives. But for a few hours, it could have provided a bit of escape, catharsis even.

What WWE trotted out for the most part tonight was reductive, recursive, recycled material for a show that theoretically was supposed to sell SummerSlam. Yet, what was selling me on the show that hadn't been deployed before? Paul Heyman cut the same promo he's been cutting for a month. Bray Wyatt went on the same diatribe he's been going on for a year. I enjoyed the latter, admittedly, and was annoyed at the former, but neither tread new ground. John Cena basically remixed his standard "some of y'all like me, some of y'all hate me" promo, and I'm supposed to be amazed at him? The Stephanie McMahon/Brie Bella angle devolved into some kind of cheap TNA-knockoff infidelity angle with the least likely guy to cheat on his wife ever as the main actor here, and it just ended with the symmetry of Bella getting hauled off to jail. Two matches ended on distraction finishes. Good guys assaulted bad guys out of spite.

Sure, I was filled with a nostalgic glow when Mean Gene Okerlund, Paul Orndorff and his moustache, and the reunited nWo among others joined together to celebrate Hulk Hogan's birthday, and the Cena/Brock Lesnar showdown to end the show hit home their animosity in ways that pretaped promos could not (no matter how GOOD those vignettes were), but do 15 minutes to end a show redeem the rest of the nearly three hours I had to slog through? I don't feel like I escaped anything. My inner hater came raging out.

This show was probably not the worst RAW WWE has produced this year, but the compound interest of shit that had been heaped upon many of its viewers - not just me - required for this particular episode to bang home something worth savoring. If you're out there and you enjoyed the show tonight, God bless you. I, and judging from Twitter, a lot of the intended audience for this post, probably still need some kind of catharsis, some kind of escape.